Leukemia (Blood Cancer) Treatment
In this article, we have covered the following aspects of Leukemia Cancer:
- Best Hospitals treating Leukemia cancer in India
- Top Hemato Oncologists in India
- Cost of Leukemia treatment in India
- Understanding Leukemia Blood Cancer
Best Doctors and Hospitals for Leukemia Treatment in India
Following is a list of the most reputed specialists in India for the treatment of Leukemia.
Please click the ‘contact doctor‘ button on the right side for seeking opinion or requesting an appointment with your chosen specialist.
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Cost of Leukemia Cancer Treatment
Unfortunately, we are not able to share the cost of this treatment as we are still awaiting response from few hospitals before publishing the cost. However, you may share your medical reports and we will share the cost of treatment from the hospital recommended for you.
Understanding Leukemia/Blood Cancer
Leukemia is a type of blood cancer caused by the abnormal rapid formation of White Blood Cells (WBCs) in the blood that obstructs the formation of Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and platelets required for immunity in the body.
This means the patient can easily get caught by any infection (viral, bacterial, or other microorganism) and can even easily bruised or bleed excessively.
Causes of Leukemia
Anyone can have leukemia – children, women, men, elderly, or young. There is actually no specific cause of leukemia but yes suspected causes given by researchers are:
- Exposure to radiation and chemicals such as benzene and other hydrocarbon
- Exposure to radiations
- Genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome
- Family history of leukemia
Symptoms of Leukemia
Though there are no specific symptoms but if you experience any of the below, you should consult your doctor for early diagnosis and treatment:
- Fever and chills
- Weakness and fatigue
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Continuous headaches
- Enlarged liver and spleen
- Swollen tonsils
Investigations for Leukemia
A routine blood test can also detect blood cancer even before you begin to show any symptoms. While on analyzing the above symptoms your doctor would do complete physical examination and know your medical history based on which he/she would prescribe below tests to detect or rule out leukemia:
- Blood tests
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
- Chromosome testing
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
- Ultrasound, X-ray, CT scan, and MRI
Types of Leukemia
Leukemia is of two types:
- Acute Leukemia: This attacks the body suddenly and spreads rapidly; and
- Chronic Leukemia: Grows more slowly the over months or years
Broadly, based on the type of Leukemia and the age incidence, the prognosis of the disease is established by Oncologists.
Acute leukemia is a type of blood cancer which involves a rapid increase in the production of abnormal white blood cells. Due to fast progression and accumulation of the malignant cells in cases of acute leukemia, there is high risk of spread to other organs. Thus, acute leukemia needs to be treated immediately.
Two types of Acute Leukemia:
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
ALL involves overproduction and buildup of immature malignant lymphoblasts (a type of white blood cells), leaving less space for healthy WBCs, RBCs and platelets in the bone marrow. ALL is the most common type of blood cancer in children.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
AML involves rapid formation of abnormal myeloblasts (a type of white blood cells) interfering with the production of the normal RBCs, WBCs, or platelets. Also known as Acute Myelocytic Leukemia, it starts in the bone marrow and spreads fast into the blood and other organs. AML is more common in adults than in children.
Chronic Leukemia involves excessive accumulation of mature, but abnormal, white blood cells. Such type of leukemia grows slowly over months and years. Patients with chronic leukemia can survive for many years with the disease. Though, it is harder to cure as compared to acute leukemia. Chronic leukemia mostly occurs in older people.
Two types of Chronic Leukemia:
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
CLL begins in lymphocytes (a type of mature white blood cells) in the bone marrow and spreads to blood. CLL builds up slowly over time, and has no visible symptoms for few years. The malignant cells can spread to other parts such as liver, lymph nodes, and spleen. It primarily affects elderly people.
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)
Also called Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), the bone marrow makes immature granulocytes (a type of white blood cells), which interfere with the normal production of blood cells. Mostly CML occurs in adults.
Stages of Leukemia
Leukemia has five stages – 0-4. The stage of leukemia denotes the severity of the cancerous cells in the body whether they are confined to bone marrow or spread over to other organs.
Here again it is important to remember early detection of leukemia brings best results of treatment. Oncologist proceeds treatment according to the stage and type of blood cancer diagnosed.
Treatment of Leukemia Blood Cancer
The treatment plan for leukemia is usually the combination of more than one cancer healing approach. Based on the stage and type of leukemia, your oncologist prepares the treatment plan for you to cure and control the symptoms of the blood disease. An extra care would be taken to protect you from infection as leukemia patients are most vulnerable to them.
- Stem cell transplant (commonly known as bone marrow transplant): The transplant involves a replacement of diseased bone marrow tissue with highly specialized stem cells that further grow into healthy bone marrow. It helps to bring the blood counts to safe levels. Stem cell transplantation uses chemo or radiation therapy to kill the diseased bone marrow. You may receive your own stem cells or the ones donated by another person. The process is done in phases and may take from several weeks to months depending upon your specific case (Read: Bone Marrow Transplant: Best Hospitals, Doctors & Cost in India)
- Chemotherapy:It can be given both before and after the stem cell transplantation depending on your medical case. Chemotherapy is actually the different doses of drugs (via pills, injections, or IV solutions) administered into the patient to kill the leukemia cells and also to prevent further relapse.
- Radiation therapy:Your oncologist may use radiation therapy to kill cancer cells. The usage depends upon the stage and spread of the disease.
- Targeted drug therapy: This is the advanced treatment for leukemia, which is costlier too. Targeted cancer therapy drugs act differently than chemotherapy as they specifically target certain characters of cancer cells. Targeted therapy is less likely to harm the healthy cells of the body.
- Induction Therapy:Induction therapy is a mix of chemo and targeted therapy.
- Biological Therapy (Biotherapy or Biological Response Modifiers, BRMs): Biological therapy is used in chronic lymphocytic leukemia treatment to destroy and control cancer cells. They also help to overcome side effects caused by other leukemia treatment processes.
- Wait-and-watch approach: Generally wait-and-watch approach is followed for patients having early stage of leukemia or chronic type of blood cancer when the disease is not widespread in their body and is progressing slowly. Your oncologist would closely monitor the symptoms before giving any treatment and you would be asked for regular tests and examinations.
Note (for foreign patients):
Besides South Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), every year, India gets thousands of medical tourists from African countries- Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Ghana, Somalia,Gambia etc and Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Yemen etc. Hence, if you are a citizen of any of these countries, there is good likelihood that you will be meeting some fellow citizens or same language speakers in the major hospitals in India. Almost all the top hospitals have translators for people of these region. Our patient support team is also well placed to assist you.